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PBT NBA Power Rankings: Spurs set the bar while Pacers fall like a rock

Apr 7, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT

Greg Popovich AP

Not much change at the top — the Spurs and Clippers remain at the top and while there is a little shuffling below them it’s still all the same teams. Well, except the Pacers who are crashing harder than Justin Bieber’s career.

 
source:  1. Spurs (60-17, Last week No. 1). The loss to the Thunder shows what makes this an interesting playoffs for the Western Conference — it’s all about match ups. Oklahoma City gives San Antonio trouble, although I don’t read too much into a road loss on the second night of a back-to-back (which is why the Spurs stay on top of the rankings).The Spurs are the NBA’s first 60-win team and have set the bar for everyone else — if you want to win an NBA title you need to be better than San Antonio.

 
source:  2. Clippers (55-23, LW 2). Health is the prevailing question in L.A., with key bench contributors Jamal Crawford and Danny Granger likely out until the playoffs begin. With a likely looming first round series against Golden State (and potential second round vs. OKC), the Clippers need Glen Davis focused (and playing for his next contract), plus a healthy Crawford and Granger to advance.

 
source:  3. Heat (53-23, LW No. 5). LeBron James said he wants to play every Heat game down the stretch, but if Miami beats Indiana in their showdown Friday night and can lock up the No. 1 seed in the East, look for Erik Spoelstra to give him a game or two off.

 
source:  4. Thunder (55-21, LW 3).. Interesting potential playoff preview Wednesday when the Thunder and Clippers meet — if things follow form that would be the second round matchup. Speaking of matchup problems for teams, the Thunder likely would prefer not to see the Suns in the first round — Phoenix’s style puts up points on OKC. (The Thunder are 3-1 vs. Memphis and 1-2 vs. Dallas.)

 
source:  5. Rockets (51-25, LW 4). Sunday’s come from behind win is huge for a team trying to hold on to home court advantage in the first round. What really matters is getting Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley back healthy — they shouldn’t rush back for the regular season but they are needed likely against Portland in the first round.

 
source:  6. Warriors (48-29, LW 8). The players seem unfazed by the assistant coach turmoil going on around this team and just keep picking up key wins. They continue to play good defense nightly — particularly when Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut are both on the court. It’s that defense as much as the jump shooting that makes them dangerous in the postseason.

 
source:  7. Trail Blazers (50-28, LW 13). Playing better since LaMarcus Aldridge’s return (shocking!) they are just 1.5 games back of Golden State for the fifth playoff seed in the West — the two teams play Friday night in a showdown that could determine the slot. Five seed likely gets Rockets, six the Clippers. Both tough, but Houston is more vulnerable.

 
source:  8. Suns (46-31, LW 10). Tough stretch of games started with a loss to Clippers but then wins over Portland and Oklahoma City. Four of final five are on the road (starting with the Spurs) but this team just keeps on winning. Big games Saturday vs. Mavericks then April 14 vs. Grizzlies.

 
source:  9. Bulls (45-32, LW 12). If they met today I’d pick the Bulls to beat the Pacers in the second round of the playoffs. A lot of things can change by then but the Bulls just keep winning with their defense and Joakim Noah as the focal point of the offense. They know who they are, which is more than you can say for the Pacers right now.

 
source:  10. Raptors (45-32, LW 13). While nobody south of the border was paying attention the Raptors have won 6-of-7 — they are going to win the Atlantic Division. Holding off the Bulls for the three seed will be more difficult, but a soft schedule this week (Sixers, Knicks, Pistons) will help.

 
source:  11. Mavericks (47-31, LW 11). They have a 1.5 game lead on nine seed Memphis, which is a nice cushion late in the playoff chase, but with games this week against the Spurs and Suns they need to play more like the team we saw against the Clippers last Tuesday than the couple of sloppy wins since.

 
source:  12. Grizzlies (43-29, LW 9).  Five games left and they control their own fate — the Heat are tough on Wednesday but after that the Sixers and Lakers are beatable. Then they close against the Suns and Mavericks and that could decide it all.

 
source:  13. Pacers (52-21, LW 6). Oh how the mighty have fallen. Their offense always had a small margin for error and a little more stagnation and a little more guys seeming to think about their numbers has hurt them. Plus they are just missing shots they used to make. C.J. Watson should return this week and they could use that point guard to help organize the offense.

 
source:  14. Nets (42-34, LW 14). Kevin Garnett could return this week and along with Andrei Kirilenko that should help a Nets defense that has been a mess of late. Like against the Knicks last week. They are likely the five seed and if they face Toronto in the first round they could advance to the second round, which is the least you could ask considering what Prokhorov is paying for this roster.

 
source:  15. Wizards (40-37, LW 15). Nene is back practicing and is expected to return to the Sixers lineup this week — that makes Washington a far, far more dangerous team. They need to pick up a couple wins down the stretch to keep the six seed, the Bobcats are just one game behind them.

 
source:  16. Bobcats (39-38, LW 18). Winners of four in a row, which has secured them a playoff spot, and as of right now they are above .500. Make sure your remember that and coach Steve Clifford when filling out your Coach of the Year ballots (he’s not going to win but should get mentioned).

 
source:  17. Hawks (34-42, LW 21). Quality offensive outings against the Pacers and Cavaliers have given them a two-game cushion over a banged-up Knicks team — they are in the driver’s seat to make the playoffs, with only two of their remaining six on the road and half the games against teams below .500.

source:  18 . Timberwolves (38-38, LW 16). They pulled out a thrilling come-from-behind close win over the Heat last weekend — if they had pulled out some close ones earlier in the season we’d have them in our playoffs mix. But alas, the discussion moves on to Kevin Love in the off-season.

 
source:  19. Knicks (33-45, LW 17). Carmelo Anthony is doing his best to play through a shoulder injury but this team just isn’t good enough to win games against quality teams without him. Problem is, they are two games back of Atlanta and there are nothing but quality teams left on the schedule — at Toronto, Chicago, at Brooklyn, Toronto. They need a lot of help from the Hawks to make he postseason now.

 
source:  20. Cavaliers (31-47, LW 19). Kyrie can say whatever he wants about his future and the speculation surrounding it, his contract negotiations this summer will tell you all you need to know — will he take a full five year deal with the Cavaliers or will he ask for an opt out after three? And if he does ask, how will the Cavaliers organization handle it?

 
source:  21. Kings (27-50, LW 23). They have five straight 50-loss seasons (not counting the lockout year… but they weren’t exactly impressive that season either). I love the energy Vivek Ranadive is bringing as Sacramento owner, but it shows you how hard it can be to turn an entire franchise around.

 
source:  22. Nuggets (33-44, LW 22). Easily the craziest play of last week was Brian Shaw drawing up a play for a game winning three for Timofey Mozgov — he is a career 20% shooter from three who has taken 18 threes all season (hitting four). I have no idea why.

 
source:  23. Pelicans (32-45, LW 20). They have lost five in a row and have a brutal closing stretch of games — Suns, Thunder twice and Rockets twice. But hey, they have Anthony Davis.

 
source:  24. Magic (22-55 LW 25). The team is not for sale, the DeVos family wants you to know. That’s swell. But this is still a massive rebuilding project in its early stages, this is a team that needs a little lottery luck this year.

 
source:  25. Pistons (28-49, LW 28). It’s unlikely to happen — they likely will have a 3.5% shot at it — but if the Pistons won the NBA Draft lottery and Joe Dumars was kept, do you think he would draft Joel Embiid then refuse to trade Josh Smith, Andre Drummond or Greg Monroe?

 
source:  26. Lakers (25-52, LW 24). Unless they win out — and they are not going to win out — this will be the worst Lakers team in the history of the franchise since it moved to Los Angeles. What’s more there are just not reasonable quick turnaround scenarios out there — it’s going to take a few years at least to rebuild the Lakers.

 
source:  27. 76ers (16-57, LW 27). Two wins in a couple weeks means the Bucks will finish with the worst record in the NBA, not the Sixers. By the way, Michael Carter-Williams has secured himself the Rookie of the Year trophy, with Victor Oladipo second. Despite Oladipo’s play of late.

 
source:  28. Jazz (24-53, LW 29). Is Tyron Corbin capable of developing players at the level the Jazz need him to during this rebuild? His contract is up at the end of the season and this is a very patient Utah ownership that doesn’t like change, but they need to ask that question.

 
source:  29. Celtics (23-54, LW 26). They are 1-13 in their last 14 games and last weekend lost to both the Sixers and the Pistons. That is some terrible basketball. There’s a lot of rebuilding to do in Boston and I don’t know that Rajon Rondo wants to stick around for all of it.

 
source:  30. Bucks (14-63, LW 30). This team has the worst record in the history of the Bucks franchise — and what hurts is they didn’t go into this season trying to tank. The O.J. Mayo signing has been a disaster and Larry Sanders’ season has gone up in a puff of smoke. Hey but they’ll have the highest lottery odds. So they got that going for them, which is nice.

  1. 25yearindyfan - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Enter all of the idiots who don’t understand what Power Rankings are… Oh and Indy is too high. 20th would be about right.

  2. buckshowalter - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    The Suns road trip begins with New Orleans on Wednesday, not San Antonio on Friday.

  3. legend30 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    Nets > Pacers

    • legend30 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      Oh yeah, the Wizards should also be higher than the Pacers. They shouldn’t traded Granger.

  4. sportsfan18 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Congrats to Michael Carter Williams for his rookie campaign.

    I’m an IU grad and I was hoping for either Oladipo or Cody Zeller to win rookie of the year when the season began.

    I knew right away Zeller wasn’t going to win it and Williams took off out of the gates like a flash.

    Everyone seemingly handed him the rookie of the year by mid-season.

    Now I still think Williams deserves it, but he did fall off some and Oladipo did improve as the year went on.

    Here are some stats between Williams and Oladipo

    FG%

    Williams .399%
    Oladipo .417%

    3 pt %

    Williams .256%
    Oladipo .323%

    Total minutes played to this point this season

    Williams 2,245
    OIadipo 2,385

    Free throw %

    Williams .692%
    Oladipo .789%

    Turnovers per 36 min’s of court time

    Williams 3.8
    Oladipo 3.6

    But again, I agree that Williams should be and will be the rookie of the year.

    I just wanted to point out some of the good things Oladipo has done as he got better as the year went on which is tough for many rookies to do.

    Congrats to both.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      That’s Carter-Williams to you pal! lol

  5. cgmac - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Except Portland is 1.5 games AHEAD of GS.

    Currently sitting in 5 while GS sits in 6th.

  6. redbearwoodall - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    “Is Tyrone Corbin capable of developing players at the level the Jazz need him to during this rebuild?” No. Jazz fans have been screaming this all season. The two veterans on expiring contracts (Jefferson and Williams) have been playing more than our young players that we want to develop into franchise faces. The FO told Corbin this season was about development, not wins. He tried for wins, not development. As a result, we didn’t sniff the playoffs, we didn’t get any answers on our young players, and we have almost no chance of drafting Wiggins or Parker. Corbin set us back five years, and I’m afraid if we keep him around he’ll set us back another five.

  7. 00maltliquor - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    Indy is ranked too high

  8. sdchargerdeserter420 - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    If the regular season only ended today the Spurs would be the champs again…. but since we have the playoffs the Spurs can rest their head on having the best regular season record and home court, it’ll give them something to feel good about when they come up short in the playoffs AGAIN. Take it to the bank. Thunder or Heat will run them down in a series.

  9. money2long - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    lol. im the only one who thinks indiana will be fine in the post season.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:04 AM

      Yes.

      lol

    • bougin89 - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:42 AM

      No. I’ve been arguing that the Heat(when they were slumping but now they seem to be out of their slump) and the Pacers would be fine. If the Pacers get two big wins in the first round that could completely snap them out of this…

    • gostlcards5 - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      Not the only one. I think that they will be energized and play better once the playoffs start.

  10. whitwarren - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:07 AM

    “Oklahoma City gives San Antonio trouble, although I don’t read too much into a road loss on the second night of a back-to-back (which is why the Spurs stay on top of the rankings).”
    You also didn’t read too much into the fact that OKC leads the season series with the Spurs 4-0.

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